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June 15, 2013

Column: Summer '13 offers rays of sunshine for Americans

(Continued)

Despite continuing worries about job creation and the overall condition of the economy, the number of houses repossessed by banks in May was 29 percent lower than a year ago, according to RealtyTrac Inc. Despite an uptick in foreclosures as banks try to sell houses as the market improves, the nation is on track to see 500,000 completed foreclosures this year compared with 670,000 last year. The average price of a foreclosed house is $182,136, up almost 8 percent in May from April.

Former President Bill Clinton is telling local and state politicians as well Americans in general that the federal government can’t do everything. On issues from infrastructure to health care to global warming, he says we have to stop thinking the federal government is the answer to all problems and to take on more of the burdens ourselves for what we need to achieve. One perfect example is Oprah Winfrey, who is donating another $12 million to the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, in addition to the $1 million she previously provided. The museum is expected to open in Washington in 2015.

While there are still some science-deniers among us who refuse to believe that the outbreak of extreme weather and changing climatic patterns around the globe do not portend climate change, fewer governments are among them. China and the United States have a lot of issues, but for the first time they have agreed to work together to find substitutes for man-made hydrofluorocarbons used in refrigeration and air conditioning, which deplete the ozone layer. About 100 countries now are on board on this initiative.

Finally, if you still aren’t cheered up a bit, head to the local cinemaplex or drive-in. This summer, Hollywood is bringing out a Lone Ranger movie -- with the always-entertaining Johnny Depp as Tonto -- and another Superman flick. Can truth, justice and the American Way really be in that much danger?

Scripps Howard columnist Ann McFeatters has covered the White House and national politics since 1986. Email amcfeatters@nationalpress.com.

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